Choosing a funeral director

Finding the right person to help you organise a funeral is really worth taking time over – if you have a brilliant funeral director working with you, then there’s every chance that the funeral you create together will be exactly what you need it to be, and do exactly what you need it to do.

There are lots of amazing funeral directors out there. It’s just not always easy to find them.

What are you looking for?

We think that a good funeral director is the kind of person you are drawn to for their warmth and kindness, someone who you can trust with the most precious of tasks; the care of the person who has died. 

We believe good funeral directors understand that their role is supportive rather than directive and that they are there to help you navigate your way to creating a funeral ceremony that is both meaningful and transformative. 

A skilled funeral director will spend time asking you about what matters to you and what you want the ceremony to achieve.  They will be available to you as the day of the funeral approaches to answer questions and adjust arrangements, and they will be a reassuring, unobtrusive presence when the day arrives.

They will also be completely open and transparent with you. If you want to know where your relative will be cared for and how they will be looked after, a good funeral director will have no problem with you looking at their mortuary area and explaining what is normally done once somebody is brought into their care.

Where do you start?

Just because there is a company on your local high street or close to the home of the person who has died does not mean that you have to use them.

We strongly recommend spending time doing some research before deciding which company to employ.

You will need to have an idea of what you want a funeral director to do for you before you contact anyone, so it’s worth thinking this through before picking up the phone. If you’re not sure about what kind of funeral you want, spend some time looking through this website to begin to get some ideas of what might work for you.

We recommend looking for independently owned companies. They are likely to offer a higher level of personal service and their prices are generally lower than companies that are part of a large chain. In addition, smaller owner / operators have the autonomy to be flexible, meaning that they will be able to respond to requests without seeking permission.

Google ‘funeral director + your town’ and you’ll get a list of all your local funeral directors. Have a look at their websites and read any reviews. You’ll get a feel of what’s important to them, and an indication of whether they are independent or part of a chain. You will also be able to compare prices – since September 2021, all funeral companies are required by law to display a Standardised Price List on their websites as well as in the window and reception area of their premises.

If you don’t know where to start, have a look at our Recommended funeral directors. If you find one you like the look of who isn’t local, give them a call and have a chat. If they can help you, they will, if they can’t, they might know a similar funeral director closer to you who they can suggest.

Questions to ask

We have put together a list of questions that might help you decide if a particular funeral director is right for you.

Download a copy here using the button below.

You may find it helpful to ask a friend to make the initial enquiries on your behalf – when someone you love has died, calling round funeral directors can feel like an overwhelming task. 

Pick a friend who is level-headed, organised, not afraid to ask questions (both of you and of funeral directors), and in whom you can confide about any financial constraints.

Tell them what you want from a funeral director and let them do the research and phone calls for you, and come up with a short list.

Know your budget

Your budget will influence what sort of funeral you choose. It can be easy to overspend; many people can feel an unspoken pressure to ‘do them proud’, which can lead to spending a lot of money. Remember that, ultimately, a good funeral is determined by what you say and do, not what you spend.

Ask a friend to help you stick to your budget. Remember that many funeral directors will ask for all of the 3rd-party fees before the funeral. 

It’s perfectly okay to ask friends and family to help with the cost, and much more practical than buying flowers which will usually only be seen briefly. Do be sure to claim any benefits you might be entitled to.

Continuity of care matters

We think it’s important that the person you make arrangements with at the funeral home will be there for you on the day of the funeral. 

The best funeral directors pride themselves on this continuity. They make sure that you have one person who goes with you all the way, from start to finish. That person may well be responsible for caring for your relative too, washing, lifting and dressing them. You have one main point of contact, from beginning to end.

Unfortunately, many companies do not offer this continuity of care, they have funeral arrangers in the offices and funeral conductors who manage the ceremonies and funeral operatives who collect and look after the bodies of those who have died. You may not mind about this, the one-to-one relationship may not be a priority for you, but it’s important to know that there are other ways of working.

If continuity of care does matter to you, it is important to ask the following question when you are looking for a funeral director: ‘Can you guarantee that, as far as possible, the person I make the funeral arrangements with will be the person I have contact with throughout, and the person who conducts the funeral on the day?’

We’d love your support

As a Community Interest Company, the Good Funeral Guide exists to benefit the community and to fulfil a social purpose. We rely on donations and goodwill to continue to do our work.

If you find our website helpful, please consider making a donation to help keep us going. 

 And if you’d like to support us while joining a community of like-minded people, why not consider joining the Good Funeral Guild?